Roundups Law and Policy

Weekly Legal Roundup: Federal Courts Continue To Split On Birth Control Benefit

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Another ruling in the more than forty legal challenges to the contraception mandate in Obamacare shows the fight is far from over.

A federal judge on Friday refused to grant an injunction for a Mennonite business owner who claimed complying with the birth control benefit in Obamacare violated his religious liberties and free speech rights. It’s the latest decision to come from the 43 lawsuits currently working their way through federal district and appellate courts.

The decision is one of the strongest yet to come out in opposition to the idea that secular for-profit companies with no formal ties to a church or other religious group may impose specific religious beliefs on their employees vis-a-vis refusing to comply with the birth control benefit.

Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby announced that it found a temporary work-around to complying with the benefit while its own legal challenge continues. Peter M. Dobelbower, general counsel for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. said in a statement released through the Becket Fund, the conservative legal group representing many of the challengers that “Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.”

It’s clear that challenging the requirement that employer-provided health care plans include coverage for  contraception at no additional co-pay is seen by the right as both a business opportunity and a means to re-litigate Obamacare. The question is not if the Supreme Court will weigh in, but how and when.

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